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A simple way to do better at work and socially - immediately


People tend to like and trust others who listen to them more than talk at them.

Oh, you knew that already? Most of us do. It just seems that many of us haven’t quite cracked it fully… Why?

  • We might feel keen to explain all about our wonderful product/service

  • Our heads are full of our stuff and we want to share how exciting that is

  • We might be a bit anxious and end up talking to cover it or want to build empathy – and over-do it

  • Or something else – who knows?

Have you ever had a really good conversation with someone – then realised it was all about one of you really listening to the other? You may have been the talker, the one being asked the questions and offering opinions – and you may have felt at the end that it was great to share so much. Or you may have been the listener and gained some real insights into the other person’s world and mindset.

The conversations that none of us recall with fondness are those where both parties were talking and almost competing in building on what the other one said.

“We implemented CRM in six months”

“Wow – but we did it in 4, even though we had to build a new interface”

“Our was in the cloud – was yours?”

“No, we took a conscious decision to run it in the office – much safer: we want to know where our data is”

“You know the cloud is safer though?”

etc, etc. And who feels good at the end? Nobody. Did anyone learn anything, gain any insights? No.

Many such conversations feel more like competitions, with neither party really listening, just getting their next interruption or response ready to launch. Neither party ends up feeling it was a good conversation.

"There is a difference between listening and waiting for your turn to speak” Simon Sinek

The goal we should all aspire to is to be a good conversationalist – someone who listens attentively and seeks to understand rather than feeling desperate to get a response in. We want to talk with each other not at each other.

Assuming you think that this makes sense, then let’s look at some ideas on what might help conversation feel better.

  1. Aim to move beyond initial chit-chat into deeper conversation

  2. Listen intently, stop planning your response: delve into things, be inquisitive

  3. Share insights and ideas

  4. Ask brief questions

  5. Aim to listen more than talk

  6. Remember you can learn from everyone, no matter who they are

  7. Use “I’m curious” - a great little expression that teases out how the other person thinks and feels in away like no other.

Try it. I’m curious to know how it works for you – let me know!

And DO NOT…

  • Go on and on in detail about past events or experiences

  • Moan or complain – that can be really low value dull stuff

  • Feel you have to be right all the time – ask why others feel they have a different view, understand where they’re coming from

  • Indulge in one-upmanship

Also beware falling into these categories (it’s OK, most of us have had a wander through a few of these at some time!):

Cocky - know it all, interrupt lots

Egocentric - on about themselves

Reserved - don’t get heard, get steam-rollered

Insecure - feeling the need to out-do the other

Everyone loves a great listener – they make you feel good.

You feel you can trust them.

Be that sort of conversationalist.


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